Are you a meeting monster?

TOKYO —

Every year I facilitate a session on managing meetings for participants of the Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC).

Although it’s a bit of a dry subject, managing meetings often proves to be a nightmare for the teams of the business training program.

However, the current JMEC participants probably don’t know this yet as the teams for the 19th consecutive competition have yet to be finalised.

Everyone thinks they know how to run a meeting, so what’s the point of the session?

In the nine years that I have been involved with JMEC and throughout my (oh so long) working career, I have seen many meetings fall apart at the seams.

Below I have described, with a light-hearted approach, the types of people seen at meetings in the past. See if you can recognise any of them.

If you wish to discuss techniques for dealing with the above types of people, you will have to attend JMEC’s session on managing meetings.

DEVIL’S ADVOCATE

This type of person likes to constantly take the opposite view to any argument or point being put forward. They seem to think it is some sort of sport. Often this person begins by saying “for the sake of argument, I believe the opposite is true”.

While there is always value in looking at more than one point of view, the devil’s advocate seems to take this stance at every possible opportunity.

JOKER

I am a great believer in lightening the atmosphere from time to time. However, jokers often are over the top and sometimes belittle others’ ideas and contributions.

Jokers can be a real pain when one is trying to keep a meeting on track. Their constant repartee derails others, and often completely redirects the subject being discussed.

PANDORA’S BOX OPENER

These meeting monsters feel they have to tackle issues that are emotional, touchy or “hot buttons” for others.

In every business meeting there are topics that are guaranteed to strike a nerve, provoke an emotional reaction, or place the group into a quagmire.

Pandora’s box openers like to discuss anything that will strike a nerve or provoke people’s emotional responses. They like to go where other members of the meeting know it would be better not to go. They bring up issues from past meetings that have been resolved, but not to their liking.

TANGENT TALKER

They like to divert the topic to something different, detracting from the agenda. Thus, one minute you are on target and adhering to the agenda and the next minute … who knows! However, you can be sure it will not be the topic at hand.

FENCE SITTER

Such people are unable to make decisions. They like to consider all points of view and hate to disagree with anyone. They hate conflict and healthy debate, avoiding it at all costs. It’s difficult to see what point these people are trying to make during a discussion, while their ambivalence is frustrating and slows down a meeting.

MONOPOLISER

He or she believes they are the only one who has knowledge and the correct answers on any given subject.

They believe that everyone else is there to hear them speak. Thus, they prattle on, in the belief that their ideas are the only important ones, and don’t give anyone else a look in.

CYNIC

Such masters of negativity tend to use phrases like “we’ve tried that before and it failed”, or “that won’t work”. The cynic sees everything from a negative perspective.

ATTACKER

Attackers are bullies. They attack the person rather than the issue, have no concern about hurting other people’s feelings, are confrontational and have no regard for others.

SUCK-UP

These people will bend over backwards to ingratiate themselves with the boss. They are smarmy and sickly sweet, agree with everything the boss says, and have no backbone or ideas of their own.

ROBOTS

These people irritate me the most. They cannot live without technology and bring mobile phones, pagers, iPads and laptops to meetings, where they access their e-mails every few minutes. It’s not only a distraction for the user, but for others at the meeting.

Author Infomation

Anne Good
Anne Good
Anne Good is a professional executive, career and life coach and conducts sessions face-to-face or via Skype.
Website: http://www.eurekamoments.net
  • 4

    lwsydney

    This is good to read from any social interaction perspective as well.

  • 5

    Harry_Gatto

    Yes, seen them all at one time or another, sometimes all in the same meeting! Are you going to write a follow-up article on how to deal with these people?

  • 4

    Frungy

    I'd like to add some more, if I may:

    The Critic Criticises every idea as soon as it comes up because it isn't perfect on the first try, but phrases the criticism in an extremely destructive way. This sort of person seems to rate their success in the meeting by how many ideas they shoot down, not in progress towards a solution.

    The PC Gone Mad Politically correct to the point where they intervene every time the issue touches on a politically sensitive group, to the point where one can't talk about sensitive groups (e.g. single mothers, homosexuals, etc.) and ultimately they're excluded from consideration.

    The Megalomaniac Is only interested in how this meeting impacts on them and their department, and how ultimately it will increase their power and prestige in the organisation. Attempts to twist every agenda item into a power play for increased authority/resources/etc.

    The Chatterboxes Two or more people having a long side-conversation. When asked they'll either shut up for a few moments, or will insist that they are discussing something more important/urgent.

  • 7

    vctokyo

    you missed out on one, the middle age salary man sleeping at the meeting

  • 0

    randomenigma

    "While there is always value in looking at more than one point of view, the devil’s advocate seems to take this stance at every possible opportunity."

    Perfectly fine to do so, as like you say, there is always value.

  • 0

    Tronru

    Why teach dunce? They should be using tests to identify in advance and get rid of them. Fools learn, and how smart can not get knowledge?

  • 0

    Mike Walker

    I guess the writer is a Robot who likes to conduct meetings with Skype.

  • 0

    Jay Que

    Right on target. Interaction with such types is a reason why I no longer care to serve on various boards of directors... "every party's got a pooper"

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